The Korea Herald


Literary giants from France, India, Ireland nominated for Pak Kyongni Prize

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : June 13, 2024 - 11:37

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From left, Amitav Ghosh, Sylvie Germain and John Banville (Mathieu Genon, Tadeusz Kluba, Donostia Kultura) From left, Amitav Ghosh, Sylvie Germain and John Banville (Mathieu Genon, Tadeusz Kluba, Donostia Kultura)

Three writers -- Sylvie Germain from France, Amitav Ghosh from India and John Banville from Ireland -- have been nominated for the 13th Pak Kyongni Prize, according to the award’s organizer, Toji Cultural Foundation, on Wednesday.

The judging committee conducted a review of writers from around the world over eight months starting in October last year and narrowed down this year's candidates to three.

Germain debuted with "The Book of Nights" (1985) to great acclaim, winning six French literary prizes. It traces a century in the life of the Peniel family, blending medieval legend and Greek tragedy. Her 1989 novel "Days of Anger," which won the Prix Femina, delves into themes of desire, obsession and love, set deep in remote forests. Her work is known for exploring magical realism, myths, and rich landscapes steeped in history.

Ghosh has written a vast body of work, from historical novels to journalistic essays, discussing topics like colonialism and climate change. He received the Jnanpith Award in 2018, India's oldest and highest literary honor. Notable works include the Prix Medicis-winning "The Circle of Reason," the Booker-shortlisted "Sea of Poppies" and the grand epic "The Glass Palace."

Banville is a journalist and novelist whose work often explores themes of loss, obsession, destructive love, and the pain of freedom. His "Revolutions Trilogy" includes "Doctor Copernicus," "Kepler," and "The Newton Letter," each named after a famous scientist. "The Book of Evidence" was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and "The Sea," which tells the story of a widowed art historian revisiting a childhood seaside destination, won the Booker Prize.

The annual award is an international literary award based in Korea, established in 2011 to honor the literary legacy of novelist Pak Kyong-ni (1926-2008), renowned for her epic saga “Toji (The Land).” The 16-volume series tells the story of five generations of a wealthy Korean family from South Gyeongsang Province, through the end of the Joseon era, Japanese occupation and Korean independence. Pak wrote the story from 1969 to 1994.

The literary award aims to recognize novelists worldwide who have significantly influenced the course of literature while preserving its intrinsic value, according to the Toji Cultural Foundation.

The prize comes with a certificate of merit, a plaque and an award of 100 million won ($72,600).

This year's winner will be announced in September.

Previous recipients include inaugural winner Choi In-hoon, author of “The Plaza,” Bernhard Schlink from Germany, Amos Oz from Israel, Ngugi wa Thiong'o from Kenya, Richard Ford from the US, Ismail Kadare from Albania and Yun Heung-gil from Korea. Last year, Austrian writer Christoph Ransmayr received the award.